Employers report that the health, wellbeing and productivity of their workforces has been adversely impacted by a shortage of support from social care services.
A survey carried out by charity, Carers UK, revealed that two-thirds of employers feel that there needs to be more practical assistance from care and support services to ensure their staff with unpaid caring responsibilities are able to stay in work.
With the government’s furlough scheme scaled back but many care and support services still closed, increasing numbers of working carers are having to consider reducing their hours or even quitting work to care.
Responding to Carers UK’s survey before the pandemic, 72% of employers said caring and the ageing population will put more pressure on their staff, and 64% believed it may lead to loss of valuable employees if staff give up work to care.
Now during the pandemic, with an additional 2.8 million workers having picked up caring responsibilities in a matter of weeks, employers are receiving an influx of requests for flexible working hours to accommodate caring responsibilities.
More conversations are taking place with line managers about family responsibilities because of Covid-19, with some employers choosing to provide carer’s leave and special leave to cope with the current situation.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: ‘When you’re caring for someone and you can’t get the support you need from social care services, it can become impossible to stay in work.
‘Our survey shows that businesses are now having to manage the fallout of this increasingly common dilemma for staff who are juggling work and care for a relative.
‘Just as childcare used to be a key issue stopping women from continuing to work, now caring is holding back thousands of people from enjoying a fulfilling career and retaining an income.
‘If the Government wants to ensure jobs and keep the economy thriving it has to recognise how big an issue caring has become for a huge swathe of workers – and their employers.
‘Investing in social care and delivering an ambitious plan for reform would allow thousands of people to benefit from a job and improve productivity across industries.’
According to the survey, two-thirds of employers want to see services that are available outside of normal working hours and clearer, more accessible public information on how and where working carers and their families can get practical help with caring.
While 68% said recognition of carers by GP and health professionals, as well as timely and ongoing support, was their top priority to help them look after carer health and wellbeing at work.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, says councils are committed to doing all they can to support carers.
‘Every part of the care and support sector is under intense pressure due to the current crisis and councils are doing all they can to support carers and those they care for through this.
‘Our care system could not survive without the contribution of unpaid carers, who provide vital support for thousands of people every day. Councils fully recognise their crucial role and assess and support hundreds of thousands of carers every year, but could do even more with the right resources.
‘We know that caring can place a real strain on carers, emotionally, physically and financially, especially during this pandemic, which is why councils are committed to doing all they can to support them.
‘Social care deserves parity of esteem with the NHS. This needs to be backed up by a genuine, long-term and sustainable funding settlement for adult social care, which we have been calling for long before the current crisis.
‘We look forward to the beginning of promised cross-party talks on the future of adult social care, as soon as possible.’
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